Socialist Worker

Blair on the shelf

Issue No. 1670

THE GOVERNMENT has sold so few copies of its annual report that it has been forced to buy up tens of thousands of unsold copies. New Labour put 100,000 copies of its report on sale in Tesco's. But, of the 49,000 copies sold, the government admits it bought 41,000 of them. That still leaves another 51,000 copies rotting on the shelves.

Hidden nukes

THE US shipped nuclear weapons to 18 countries and nine other territories and possessions during the Cold War, according to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. The weapons were deployed in some countries without the host governments knowing they were there. Nuclear weapons were sited in Japan, Iceland, Taiwan and Greenland (a possession of Denmark) - all countries with longstanding non-nuclear policies.

Today the US is the only country that deploys nuclear weapons overseas. The article says US bombs remain stationed in Belgium, Britain, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey. US officials deny this list is accurate and say that at least one country is incorrect. During the peak of the 1970s the US had more than 7,000 nuclear weapons in NATO countries in Europe and 2,000 on land in the Pacific.

TOP banker Michael Baring of Barings Bank thought he'd have a nice day in the countryside slaughtering deer last week. He was tipped as a future chairman of the business which was shaken when its trader Nick Leeson ran up debts of £850 million.

Baring of course never suffered as a result of the losses and maintained a high living image as a Highland gent. But shooting proved his downfall. Last week he collapsed on the heather and was dead before help could arrive.

Lies about junk

JUNK FOOD aimed at children is being dressed up with misleading or bogus health claims to foil parents. Processed products stuffed with fat, salt, and sugar are trying to suggest they are nutritious. A report from the Food Commission says that manufacturers add a small dose of vitamins to pretend there is something healthy about their junk.

Jelly Tots are 80 percent sugar but are promoted as 'containing real fruit juice and added vitamin C'. Marks & Spencer Crunchy Puffs breakfast cereal is more than half sugar but is advertised as 'fortified with vitamins'. YumTums Iced Gems sugar-topped biscuits by Jacobs/Danone are described as 'a nutritious snack with added vitamins and minerals'.

OFSTED'S spanker

A SENIOR Ofsted schools inspector is due to speak at a conference organised by a Christian group which advocates spanking babies for poor table manners. Ofsted inspector Stephen Dennet is to speak at the conference in London organised by Christian Education Europe. The group advocates physical punishment of children as young as 18 months for small 'misdemeanours'

Foul play

'SACRIFICED ON The Altar of Profit'. That was the headline on the Independent's sports pages this week as it told a story of corporate greed. The rich clique who run Newcastle United Football Club have infuriated ordinary people who sank their savings into a club 'bond scheme'.

Five years ago loyal fans were asked to cough up £500 each for a bond. Club bosses said the money would help build a new expanded stadium. Some 9,500 fans paid up, raising £4.5 million. Their reward was supposed to be the right to buy a season ticket in the main stand for the next ten years. Now the club has told fans that unless they cough up another £1,350 they will be turned out of the prime seats they thought they had secured and pushed into another part of the ground.

The move is aimed at clearing out ordinary fans to make way for 'corporate entertainment'. 'Fans are incensed,' says the Independent Supporters Association. 'The snub to ordinary season ticket holders, shifted for corporate entertainment, is an absolute disgrace.' One fan, Jane Duffy, says, 'I am so angry. I feel totally conned. We're just the ultimate commodity to be exploited.'

Hot mustard

MUCH OF the British press has been whipping itself into an anti-French frenzy. The foreigner bashing backfired in the Daily Mail. 'Just Say NON' to French goods was its campaign urging a consumer boycott. But the Mail had to publish an apology the next day. In its list of goods to be boycotted, said the Mail, 'We incorrectly included La Favourite French mustard, which is produced in Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire.' Oops!

Chinese silence

NEWSPAPERS owned by Rupert Murdoch, such as the Times, constantly claim their super-rich proprietor does not influence editorial policy. Funny, then, that the Times last week suddenly pulled a planned supplement this week dealing with business opportunities in Taiwan. Could this have any connection with the following facts:

1) Chinese president Jiang Zemin was in London on an official visit last week. 2) China claims Taiwan as part of its territory. 3) Rupert Murdoch has huge business interests in China and is hoping to make a series of lucrative deals to expand them further.

THE rabble in the House of Lords is squabbling over who will get to stay in place for a few more years. The reform being pushed by the New Labour government is hardly likely to make the place much more democratic.

Blair refuses to simply scrap the Lords or make it subject to election. Instead he wants to pack it full of appointed cronies. But a stepping stone towards that means that the current 751 hereditary lords get to choose 92 from among their number to stay in place. As one peer summed up the process, 'The genuine backwoodsman will vote for the person most likely to invite them shooting, the people they were at school with, someone else whose name they recognise, their father in law, and so on.'

Things they say

'ORANGE marches are colourful, lively, family occasions. They can be fun and I hope in time they will become part of the common heritage of Northern Ireland.'
DAVID TRIMBLE of the Ulster Unionist Party

'IF YOU rely on the state pension you will retire in abject poverty.'
JEFF ROOKER, pensions minister, to the National Association of Pension Funds last week

'I BELIEVE we should go back to the days when we used to blockade the French out of the West Indies.'
TV chef ANTONY WORRALL-THOMPSON supporting a boycott of French goods

'THERE were frequent enquiries and efforts from Railtrack to have it [the line] reopened. There were a number of telephone calls on the night of the crash asking just how long police would want to keep the site.'
GRAHAM SATCHWELL of the British Transport Police, speaking at the inquiry into the Southall rail crash

'WE understand there's a need to hand back the site as quickly as possible, but only when a careful, painful and thorough search has been done. The sort of approach taken by Railtrack is not at all helpful.'

'I'M THE president of the republic. If you talk again, I'll make you pay. Shut up.'
ERNESTO ZEDILLO, president of Mexico, to flood victims who crowded round him demanding aid

'THERE SEEMS to be no end to the greed of these men. They may not be breaking any rules, but they should remember that Christianity is not the exclusive preserve of the rich.'
CLERGYMAN speaking out against Church of England bishops who are being given luxury cruises by a travel firm

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Article information

Inside the System
Sat 30 Oct 1999, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1670
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